Photographer shares a behind-the-scenes look at a recent Vanity Fair cover

Photography, for Tony Salvagio, is about breaking barriers — but the self-taught street photographer never thought his nights walking through the city would lead him to assist celebrity photographer Peter Lindbergh on a Vanity Fair cover shoot featuring Jennifer Lawrence. Salvagio — and two other photographers — recently discovered what goes on behind the cover after winning a portfolio contest sponsored by Wix.


Out of over 14,000 entries, Salvagio was selected by a panel of three judges from Condé Nast to assist Lindbergh on the September 19 shoot for the holiday cover of Vanity Fair. The contest also gave 27-year-old fashion photographer Max Montgomery shooting privileges for the cover of Brides Magazine. That same contest also led to aerial photographer Nicholas La landing the assignment of shooting the Eiffel Tower for the cover of Condé Nast Traveler. The three photographers were selected after Wix decided to run a contest celebrating the launch of their upgraded Pro Gallery feature.

Salvagio said shadowing Lindbergh through the entire shoot, including on-site post processing, was an incredible experience. “I didn’t have a mentor as I was very much self-taught, so to have someone [like Peter] and watch how he works and pick up on the little things he does to create a working piece of art is very inspiring.”

The street photographer said he could see just how big the shoot was going to be as soon as he stepped into the Paramount Studios parking lot already filled with sprinklers, smoke machines, lights and giant diffuser panels. Salvagio worked alongside Lindbergh assisting with tasks from shielding the lens from flares to uploading media cards for the on-site photo editing. Seeing the work progress from prep to shoot to edit and finished product while all on site was very helpful, he said.

Salvagio compared the experience to taking apart a common machine like a clock. “When you start to take it apart, you see all the cogs that go into making this machine and that’s the information that will help me in the future. Watching him ultimately helps me and my photography as well.”

Salvagio said he was surprised at how welcoming and approachable Lindbergh was on the set. Watching the famous photographer master the natural lighting was key to Salvagio’s behind-the-scenes experience.

As a street photographer, Salvagio primarily uses a 24-105mm kit lens — but Lindbergh’s work has also inspired him to try out a more compressed look with a longer telephoto like the 70-200mm used on the set.

The experience was one of many broken barriers in his life that Salvagio attributes to the craft of photography, serving as another confidence booster similar to when he first started to see the value in his own work after he started shooting six years ago. “Later, I started to really see something in street photography and I started seeing changes in myself through it. I was normally very shy growing up, but street photography broke that barrier for me,” he said.

Just before Salvagio left the shoot, Lindbergh asked to see his work, capping the day with unexpected feedback.

“We wanted to give the photographers on our platform something that they can’t achieve by themselves most of the time. We came up with a lot of ideas but eventually we fell in love with the idea of offering them the opportunity to shoot a cover,” said Omer Shai, Wix’s chief marketiting officer. “Our platform is giving users the opportunity to be whatever they want.”

The three photographers — Salvagio, Montgomery, and La — were selected from 14,000 submitted Wix portfolios. The platforms algorithm was updated this summer to optimize images for both quality and performance based on the viewer’s screen and CPU.

Emerging Tech

Short film celebrates New Yorker’s amazing robot costumes

New York City resident Peter Kokis creates stunning robot costumes out of household trash. His designs are huge, heavy, and extremely intricate, and never fail to turn heads when he's out and about.

Starting your very own vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability. When it comes to putting your life on YouTube, here are the best cameras for the job.

Lexar’s latest SDXC card keeps you shooting with 1 TB of storage

Shoot large files at high capacity? Lexar's latest SDXC memory card will fit a terabyte of storage inside your camera. The Lexar SD card is part of the company's Professional 633x series. That higher capacity will come at a cost, however.

These point-and-shoot cameras make your smartphone pics look like cave paintings

If your smartphone camera just isn't giving you the results you're looking for, maybe it's time to step up your game. The latest and greatest point-and-shoot cameras offer large sensors, tough bodies, and long lenses -- something no phone…

Olympus’ latest teaser shares glimpse of new OM-D camera geared toward sports

Is Olympus about to release a new mirrorless camera geared toward sports photographers? The latest teaser offers a glimpse of an upcoming OM-D camera set to launch on January 24, and by the looks of the teasers, it's geared toward sports.

See ya, CFast: 1TB CFexpress card transfers photos at 1,400MB per second

The latest trend in professional removable storage media is fast approaching. At CES 2019, ProgradeDigital revealed its first CFexpress card, featuring a 1-terabyte capacity and bewildering 1,400 megabyte-per-second transfer rate.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: heat-powered watches, phone cases with reflexes

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

From 11K to just OK: The biggest photo gear announcements at CES 2019

From 11K cameras to 1 TB media cards, CES 2019 brought a peek at new gear for photographers and videographers. But what photography gear grabbed our attention the most? Here are the biggest photo gear announcements from CES 2019.

What to look for and what to avoid when buying a camera

Looking to buy a new camera? Our comprehensive camera guide for 2016 has answers to any camera or photography questions you might ask, whether in regards to pricing, image quality, or weatherproofing.
Social Media

No yolk! A photo of an egg has become the most-liked post on Instagram

Until this weekend, the most-liked post on Instagram was of Kylie Jenner's baby daughter, which has around 18 million likes. It's now been knocked off the top spot not by a stunning sunset or even a cute cat, but by an egg.

Going somewhere? Capture more than your phone can with the best travel cams

Hitting the road or doing some globetrotting this year? Bring along the right camera to capture those once-in-a-lifetime vacation memories. Here's a list of some of our current favorites.

From 4K powerhouses to tiny action cams, here are the best video cameras

Although not as popular as they once were, dedicated video cameras still have their benefits. From travel vlogging to home movies to recording your kid's little league game, here are the best video cameras you can buy right now.

Authentic, holistic, retro photography is in: Here are 2019’s predicted trends

What types of imagery are we most drawn to? According to recent stock photography data from Adobe, StoryBlocks, and Shutterstock, authentic, holistic, and humanitarian content will be in high demand in 2019.